The Last Meeting
My abuser had already been sentenced and was serving his brief stint in prison, my parents were in the middle of a messy divorce, I was living with my mother, and my life was upside down. The effects of the abuse were in full force and I had recently been prescribed antidepressants and sleeping aids to combat my extreme mood swings and emotional outbursts. I was half-heartedly studying vocal performance at the University of Idaho and was dating someone I knew from the university. He was not an outstanding fellow. My mom was worried about me, to say the least, and begged me to meet with Doug. At this time I was phasing out of attending Christ Church and was extremely reluctant to go to the meeting, but I wanted to salvage my strained relationship with my mom so I agreed to go.
When I showed up at Doug's office he asked if I'd be more comfortable having the receptionist in the room with us. I said I didn't care, so it remained just the two of us. To be honest, I wasn't even sure why I was there or what the meeting was to be about.
After some chit-chat, he asked about my relationships and mentioned that he'd spoken with my mom and said she'd made him aware that I was dating someone from the University. I said yes, that was true. Then it got weird. He asked me if I was sexually active with the guy I was dating. The question caught me off guard - in light of everything I had been through and the lack of support I had received from the church, I didn't see how the details of my current relationship could possibly be any of his business. I hesitated to answer, so he asked again, "Are you sexually active with your boyfriend? Do you have intercourse? Oral sex? What have you done sexually with him?"
Humiliated, I looked at the ground. "Yeah...we're sexually active."
"How often?" He pressed.
"I dunno. Sometimes."
Doug sat with one leg crossed and intently told me I needed to stop seeing this guy, repent of my sexual sin and find the path of righteousness. He told me the people who loved me were concerned about me. Then I knew: this was some sort of intervention, a plea for me to stop dating losers and come back to the church that offered me nothing when I needed everything a church should freely give. I stared out the window, nauseated and anxious to leave. Had I any idea he was going to sit alone in a room with me and press me about the details of my sex life I would have never gone to meet with him. To be clear, I was not a healthy, emotionally stable girl. On the contrary, I was a complete mess. Scarred, traumatized, isolated, depressed, suicidal, and desperately seeking escape from the mess of my own heart and mind.
I was lost. I didn't know where I was supposed to be but I knew the church was not my home nor was it a place I found any comfort or consolation.
The meeting wasn't long. I left Doug's office and walked home in the rain and I knew beyond a shadow of any doubt that I could not attend Christ Church any longer. Doug didn't know what to say to the girl who had been abused and whose family was falling apart. He didn't know how to reach me or make me feel safe. The man who had been my pastor for a good portion of my life didn't know how to love me.
Over the next several weeks I received several emails from Doug requesting that I come in to meet with he and the elders to discuss why I was no longer attending church. I didn't write back. In a final email I was informed that while I would be welcome to worship at Christ Church anytime I pleased, communion would be withheld from me until I was willing to speak with the church leaders about my reasons for leaving.
I never responded.